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Edinburgh’s trams body in ‘meltdown’ as more staff quit

Three more senior staff have quit Edinburgh’s beleaguered trams body amid allegations that the organisation is in “meltdown”.

The departure of two construction experts and a risk assessor from Transport Initiatives Edinburgh (TIE) means at least six key personnel have left in recent months.

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TIE, owned by Edinburgh City Council, is tasked with overseeing the 11.5-mile tram system between the city’s airport and Newhaven. But the project has been beset by delays, cost overruns and disputes with the contractor.

Mounting problems could force TIE into shortening the line so that it ends at Haymarket, close to Princes Street. TIE’s difficulties are exacerbated by the number of senior staff quitting.

In August, adviser Graeme Bissett, who was described by TIE chief executive Richard Jeffrey as a “valuable member of the team”, left. Days later, it was announced that TIE finance and performance director Stewart McGarrity was standing down. In November, TIE chair David Mackay walked away after branding the project “hell on wheels”.

Now, the Sunday Herald has learned that three other senior staff have left or are leaving the embattled body. Bob Bell, a construction manager on the key InfraCo trams contract, left in the autumn. Mark Hamill, a risk manager at TIE, has quit and is expected to leave this month. Graeme Barclay, TIE’s construction director, has also quit.

SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville, a critic of the project, said: “With crunch decisions on the future of the contract coming up there will now be real concerns over who is in charge of the project and who is providing the expertise that is needed to sort out the mess TIE have made of Edinburgh. TIE appears to be in meltdown.”

A TIE spokesman said: “It is not at all unusual for staff members to move on to other employment at any time as it is their right to do so. We are completely satisfied that TIE still retains the personnel and skill groups required to carry this project forward to completion.”

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